The decision to move your loved one into a nursing home can be overwhelming and challenging. When you find out they were the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of someone you thought you could trust, it’s devastating. OnderLaw, LLC can help you protect your loved one’s rights and recover the financial compensation they deserve for the suffering they endured. We know the strain of experiencing this type of trauma. You won’t be alone in your fight for justice.
We’ve been representing nursing home abuse victims since opening our firm in 2002. Our legal team has the experience, knowledge, and resources to create an effective plan that reaches our clients’ goals and fulfills their needs. When you hire one of our St. Louis nursing home sexual abuse attorneys, we’ll work diligently to build a strong case and collect relevant evidence that proves negligence.
We can help you take the first steps to protect your loved one – don’t hesitate to ask us for help. Call OnderLaw, LLC‘s St. Louis nursing home abuse attorneys today at (314) 963-9000 to schedule your free consultation.
Sexual Abuse in St. Louis Nursing Homes
Sexual abuse occurs when someone forces unwanted sexual acts on another person. It can cause emotional and psychological trauma for anyone subjected to it. Anyone in the facility could commit this egregious act, including nurses, staff members, or other patients.
Residents with dementia or physical disabilities are most susceptible to this type of abuse. That’s because it’s difficult for them to defend themselves against unwanted contact. They’re unable to give consent and can’t communicate what happened afterward to report the offender.
According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, a coalition that studies sexual abuse, 83% of elder sexual abuse victims live in a nursing home or assisted care facility. In around 80% of reported instances, the perpetrator was a caregiver. Additionally, only 30% of victims over 65 years old reported what happened to authorities.
There are various signs you should look for if you believe your loved one was sexually abused in a nursing home. They include:
- Diagnosis of a new STD (sexually transmitted disease)
- Pelvic injuries
- Difficulty sitting down or walking
- Bleeding from the genitals or anus
- Panic attack
- Bruised inner thighs or genitals
- Social or emotional withdrawal
- Bloody, torn, or stained underwear and clothing
- Anal or genital pain
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you notice your loved one’s behavior has changed or they’re exhibiting any of the signs above, you should remove them from the nursing home immediately and report it to the facility. Getting them to a safe place should be your number one priority, so they’re not subjected to continued sexual advances.
An experienced St. Louis nursing home sexual abuse attorney from OnderLaw, LLC can help you with your legal case and hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.
Steps to Take If Sexual Abuse Occurred
It’s heartbreaking to discover that someone you care about had to endure unwanted sexual contact with another person. It’s especially disheartening when it happens in a place that you thought they would be safe at all times. You trusted the staff members to provide dependable care and look out for their well-being.
If your loved one tells you sexual abuse occurred, or you suspect it was happening, follow the steps below to protect your loved one and protect their rights.
Report the abuse. Immediately notify the facility owner or someone in management and complete an incident report. Write down all the information you’re aware of, including the perpetrator’s name, sexual abuse dates, and other relevant details.
Transfer your loved one. Have your loved one moved to a hospital to treat their injuries or transferred to another nursing home to get them away from their abuser. A doctor should evaluate any injuries they sustained, so there are medical records that prove what happened.
Call the police. If necessary, call local law enforcement and file a police report against the nursing home or specific employee.
Maintain records. Keep a copy of everything associated with the case. That includes correspondence with the nursing facility and staff members, medical records, doctor-prescribed medication, and other documents.
Hire a lawyer. Speak to a St. Louis nursing home sexual abuse attorney from OnderLaw, LLC about your case and determine the available legal options moving forward.
Why Sexual Abuse Occurs in Nursing Homes
There are different causes of sexual abuse. Sometimes the nursing home is liable for using negligent hiring practices. Other times, the fault falls entirely on the abuser.
The most common causes of sexual abuse include:
- Failure to perform thorough background checks on new employees
- Poor supervision
- Inexperience or unqualified nurses
- Understaffed facilities
- Lack of protocols for patient care
When staff is inexperienced or overworked, they often take out their frustrations on their patients. They might not know how to handle elderly residents that require more assistance than others. They could see the opportunity to take advantage of them if no one is around to supervise their behavior. Sometimes they believe their inadequate pay is a good excuse to do whatever they want to a vulnerable adult.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes don’t perform the necessary background checks and screenings required to ensure their nurses and other employees have the qualifications to do their jobs. They might be in need of staff, so they cut corners during the interviewing process. If they don’t look into employment history or search for a criminal record, they could unknowingly hire someone with past sexual abuse offenses.
Individuals most at risk of forced and unwanted sexual advances are within specific demographics and have physical or mental impairments. They include the following:
- Mental illness: Someone with depression or anxiety might find it challenging to report the abuse. They could fear retaliation or that no one will believe them.
- Women: Women become victims of sexual abuse more often than men. That’s because many people view females as more vulnerable and less likely to fight back.
- Physical disabilities: A disabled patient won’t be able to defend themselves against an attack. Those that require assistance performing routine tasks are more likely to succumb to the sexual abuse because they have no way to stop it from happening.
- Cognitive illness: Cognitive diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, lead to difficulty communicating. If someone is unable to report the incident, there’s a greater chance that the sexual abuse will continue.
OnderLaw, LLC Will Help You Seek Justice for Your Loved One
Sexual abuse victims have a hard time admitting what they went through because they may feel ashamed, or they may think no one will believe them. If they’re afraid of their abuser, they’re less likely to report the incident because they don’t want the perpetrator to increase the frequency or severity of the incidents. Our St. Louis nursing home sexual abuse attorneys know how to deal with the sensitive nature of cases like yours.
When you hire us, we’ll begin with a complete investigation into the ordeal. We have extensive resources at our disposal to obtain crucial evidence that proves sexual abuse and who’s to blame. We’ll handle each step of the process, including:
- Investigate your allegations within the nursing home
- Gather evidence, such as witness statements, security video footage, and photos of visible injuries your loved one sustained from the abuse
- Review medical records from the treatment of the injuries
- Speak to other residents about their experiences at the facility and how the staff treats them
- Ask management for a copy of their liability insurance to determine available coverage
- File an insurance claim or lawsuit for compensation of your loved one’s damages.
Damages are all the losses associated with a personal injury case. They fall under two main categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are actual expenses, while non-economic damages are intangible losses. Examples of these include:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Out of pocket costs associated with medical treatment
- Emotional trauma
- Psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Permanent disability
- Loss of companionship
OnderLaw, LLC will fight for the maximum financial compensation available. Your loved one shouldn’t have to pay for the expenses they incurred. Their abuser should take full liability for the harm they caused.
Speak to an Experienced St. Louis Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Attorney
At OnderLaw, LLC, it’s our goal to ensure your loved one receives the financial award they deserve to cover their total damages. We’ll create an effective plan that meets your goals and reaches a favorable outcome. We know you and your family suffered enough during this devastating experience. You can depend on us to work efficiently, so your loved one gets justice.
We’ll work with you closely and provide the support and guidance you need. You’ll always be a priority throughout your case. We’ll update you on the progress and thoroughly explain the legal process, so you know what to expect.
Call us at (314) 963-9000 today if your loved one was the victim of sexual abuse in a nursing home. One of our St. Louis nursing home sexual abuse attorneys will be happy to meet with you for a free consultation to review your case.